A bit of history

The Shell-Shattered Area of Chateau Wood, Flanders (Picture by Frank Hurley, 1917)
The Shell-Shattered Area of Chateau Wood, Flanders (Picture by Frank Hurley, 1917)

Read: The photograph and Australia: timeline
Look: 25 of the most iconic photographs and 40 Must-See photos from the past

Today we’ll have a brief look at the history of news photography and the “news” in news photography; we’ll consider photographers as journalists and vice versa (the blurred lines of being multiskilled) – and the importance of knowing the story and recognising the most significant element(s).

In the mid-1800s, newspapers and journals used artists’ hand-drawn representations of an event and the people involved to illustrate news stories. In the late 1800s the first photographs were printed in newspapers and magazines. Today, photographs are viewed on screens carried around in our pockets. Photographic processes and equipment have also changed dramatically in less than 150 years.

In weeks to come we’ll start considering how images published in broadsheet newspapers or on double-page spreads in magazines are seen differently by a viewer than those displayed on a 4″ smartphone screen, and how we can adapt composition to ensure the strongest elements of each image tell a story.


Find a powerful and significant photo from history and write 500 words describing it. Include in your description why you think the photograph might have been significant for the time and place in which it was made. Does your chosen photograph tell a story? How? Could words – spoken or written – tell the same story? Does the photograph still have power now? Why, or why not?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: